KING’S HALL IN BELFAST TO OPEN WORLD POLICE AND FIRE GAMES

Sports Minister Cara Ni Chuilin to reveal venue for World Police and Fire Games

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin reveals venue for World Police and Fire Games

THE Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has chosen the new venue for the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG).

The Sinn Fein MLA announced on Wednesday evening that the King’s Hall grounds in south Belfast will open the ceremony.

The announcement came hours after she admitted that she “cracked the whip” with her officials to resolve the issue with just over five months to the opening ceremony.

Two weeks ago it was revealed that the Ulster Branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) had ruled out the use of Ravenhill for the World Police and Fire Games.

It meant that no venue has been found for the opening ceremony of the WPFG in Northern Ireland.

The IRFU told the organisers that staging the opening event at the east Belfast ground would clash with its own redevelopment plans for the stadium.

The refurbishment of the rugby ground is currently under way at a cost of £17.4 million, part of which is being funded by the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL).

The games are billed as the third largest international multi-sport event in the world.

Ten thousand competitors and 15,000 visitors are expected to visit Northern Ireland for the games.

Former Ulster and Ireland rugby player Trevor Ringland at the time said the decision was “an opportunity wasted”.

“I was disappointed. I thought it would be a fantastic venue with the two new stands that are going up,” he said.

“This really is an opportunity for us to showcase Northern Ireland and the new facilities at Ravenhill would have been a fantastic way of showing the best of Northern Ireland.”

Stormont sports committee member and SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley said the organisers of the games would be “very disappointed” by the news.

“I think with just six months left before the beginning of the games, it’s surprising, to say the least, that we haven’t secured a venue,” he said.

“There aren’t that many venues available.

“There will be work beginning at Windsor Park and at Casement Park, there’s a redevelopment process there as well, so the number of venues available is quite small.

“I think it behoves the organisers along with the department to ensure that a suitable venue is available and that venue is available in the not too distant future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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